By DR Peter Just Team Lead Coach Freeletics | UPDATED: 05:28, 19 January 2020
Blue Monday’, which this year falls on the 20th of January, is reported to be the most depressing day of the year due to cold weather, lingering Christmas debt and failed New Year’s resolutions.
It’s true that many people do struggle with lower mood and energy during the long dark January days, so here are some simple tips to beat Blue Monday and kick the January blues to the kerb:
Eat a Rainbow – Eating well is important when it comes to improving mood. Many people don’t realise that food is not just a source of energy for the body, the nutrients it contains also act as messengers, helping different organs (including the brain) to communicate and function optimally.
Aim to increase your intake of colourful fruit and veg by setting yourself realistic targets (eg. 2-3 different colours of veg with each evening meal and a side salad with every lunch).
2. Light Therapy – Reduced exposure to daylight over the winter months is thought to play a crucial role in the winter blues, as it disrupts our circadian rhythms and reduces serotonin production. Making sure you get outdoors each day, even for 15 minutes on your lunch break, ensuring your work area is light and airy and sitting near windows can help. You could also consider investing in a light therapy box to mimic natural outdoor light or using a daylight alarm-clock (which gradually wakes the user up by emulating sunrise) to help you get up in the mornings.
3. Vitamin D – Low mood and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) has been linked to low vitamin D levels during the winter months. Fat soluble Vitamin D is synthesised in the skin, from cholesterol, after exposure to UV rays. Between October and April in the UK we cannot synthesise adequate amounts of vitamin D from the sun and it is now well known that many of us in the UK are deficient. Vitamin D supplementation during the winter months has been shown to improve mood and is recommended as adequate vitamin D cannot be obtained from food alone.
4. Exercise – Feeling depressed can leave you feeling low in energy, which might put you off being more active. However, building regular exercise into your routine can pay dividends when it comes to mood. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise in particular, can be particularly beneficial especially if done outdoors, so it’s well worth lacing up your trainers and heading outside. If you’re stuck for ideas, or want to try something new fitness apps like Freeletics (www.freeletics.com) can be incredibly beneficial. Acting like a Personal Trainer in your pocket, the Freeletics Coach devises and demonstrates workouts which are based on your goals and fitness abilities which can be done from the comfort of your own home or outdoors, and with no equipment. To make lasting lifestyle changes, Freeletics has recently introduced Freeletics Mindset, which offers hyper-personalized, AI-powered fitness and mindset coaching to build lasting habits and reach long-term health and fitness goals.
5. While exercising is a great way to combat the Blue Monday feelings, one should also focus on building up mental power. Research shows that combining body and mind training is vital for living a healthy, holistic lifestyle. If Brits are unsure how to start practicing mindfulness, they can listen to the new Mindset audio courses from Freeletics.
Now, users can access educational content that will help in forming healthy habits, sleeping better, reducing stress, and feeling inspired. The courses only take between 5 and 20 minutes and are an excellent strategy in combating the saddest day in the year.
6. Increase tryptophan rich foods – Tryptophan is the pre-cursor to serotonin (our happy hormone). As an essential amino acid, the body cannot create it and we must obtain it from the food we eat. However, only around 3% of dietary tryptophan is utilised for serotonin production (and this may be reduced even further in times of stress). Ensuring you have good sources of tryptophan in the diet, such as turkey, beef, bananas, beans, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds is therefore important.
7. Listen to what your body needs – Sometimes it feels like there is a lot of pressure to put on a brave face and push on with our hectic daily lives regardless of how we are feeling. Whilst getting out of the house, exercising and seeing friends can have great therapeutic benefits, it may not be what you need all the time. It’s important to listen to what your body is telling you.
Freeletics is now offering a New Year’s 30% discount on the web so take up this offer and get fit with leading fitness app and get your mind and body on the right track.